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Ditch the Guilt About Sending Your Kids to Daycare When You Have a Day Off
Maybe it’s a national holiday. Maybe it’s a shutdown or a compensation day. If you’re a teacher, maybe it’s a snow day. Whatever the reason, every once in awhile working parents joyously celebrate a majestic gem poking out amongst the jagged rough of their weekly work calendar. A day off of work is a merry occasion.
Sometimes the exuberant rush you get thinking up ways to use your precious bounty of time is immediately followed up with a sinking feeling in your gut. All of the sudden your effervescent gaiety turns into an emotional dilemma. Do you keep the kids home and enjoy this bonus day with them? Or do you take them to daycare, even though you have the day off?
While you might embrace this opportunity to literally spend more time embracing your children, you may feel like you’d actually rather take the kids to daycare and have the day to yourself. Too often a sense of guilt comes over us over when we consider this latter thought. We even speak about this to each other in hushed tones, as if admitting to illicit behavior. Well, if parents wanting a few hours to themselves is a scandalous act, I’m here to tell you to embrace that inner criminal. Smuggle that bootlegged time. Indulge in those hours of contraband. Here’s why:
Happy parent = happy baby. You know how when your toddler is hungry, or annoyed, or overwhelmed, they kind of act like little jerks? Well, guess what? So do adults. Sometimes the demands of daily life can leave us lethargic, frazzled, and quick-tempered. If you’re debating whether or not to take the kids to daycare, it’s important to gauge whether or not you will truly be able to make the most of it. If you’re going to act like a flustered little fudnugget maybe don’t set your kid up for having to deal with that. You know they can out-tantrum you any day. Remember that higher quantities of time do not always equate to greater quality.
Stuff has to get done around the house. Even though you might spend a million hours each week cleaning your house, you know that your house is still a stinking shithole. The “cleaning” we are constantly doing is really just enough to make sure we clear a path from one room to another and there are enough cups for people to drink out of and clothes for people to wear. Sometimes we can’t even manage to get all of that done since because it doesn’t always work to multitask with little ones running around. Bigger ticket items like dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning out the window sills (do any of you guys actually do that or do you just THINK about someday doing it like I do?) get put on the back burner. Sometimes you need a day “off” to work your ass off around the house.
Kids thrive on routine. Daycares typically run a pretty tight ship. Mondays are reading room days, Thursdays are show and tell. Each day is packed with activities that often build off of what was done the day before. Kids like knowing what to expect and taking them to daycare on a random Monday off is what they’re expecting will happen. Your children will not wither away at daycare.
You need time to replete your energy stores. Let’s face it, maybe sometimes you don’t end up cleaning all those window sills with those few hours you had while the kids are at daycare. Maybe you sat on the sofa eating dark chocolate covered cashews watching 5 straight episodes of your favorite Netflix series. And maybe that’s just what you needed to do that day. You don’t need to justify that decision to anyone (but if you’re still feeling guilty just tell your daycare providers, “I got things done around the house” because gobbling and watching are, in fact, acts of “doing”).
Daycare provides a lot of things you just can’t dispense at home. Important things like time with same-aged peers, positive peer-pressure, and structured group activities. Things like singing songs with a dozen other voices and dancing with a dozen friends. Things like easy access to a slew of art supplies and creative tasks that just don’t get access to as easily. We’re not talking about locking our kid in a closet all day long, we’re talking about giving our kid a few hours of access to a quality learning environment.
It’s not like you’re shipping your kid off to boarding school. It’s one day off (okay, maybe two). But, seriously. Seriously. Why do we give ourself guilt-trips over these kind of things? We screw up in a lot of other ways, let’s let ourselves off the hook on this one.
It’s important to take a deep breath and keep things in perspective. Your kids won’t hold a grudge about those times you took them to daycare on your day off. They won’t even remember them. What they’ll actually remember is how they felt during the times when they were with you. Set yourself up for success on making those moments count. Enjoy that day off.